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Adventures in Bommieland
Date: February 2 -12, 2002
Destination: Bligh Triangle
Returning Guests: Don Gregory & Peg Tehar; Tom & Bonnie Schauwecker

02/02/02 Divers.

(Our special guest diarist this trip is Tom Joseph, of Wisconsin. Tom is not only a seasoned diver and professional writer; he is also an accomplished newcomer to underwater photography using a housed digital system. Tom joined NAI'A with his wife Jeanne and daughter Hillary and here he shares his favorite impressions and images from his journey.)

You can pack a lot of living into ten days on a hunk of floating steel. Morning coffee under a pink pastel sky. A dive before breakfast with fish that, like you, are still waking up - tranquil and approachable. Muffins, smoked albacore and eggs, or maybe coconut pancakes. Mid-morning action, spiraling up a bommie in full rainbow plumage, one eye on the blue, the other trained on the tiny: the pajama nudibranch, the black coral crab, the Randall's goby. Foccaccia bread and grilled chicken breast with sun-dried tomato pasta salad. Riding the afternoon currents, or perhaps sitting in the bleachers watching the gray reef sharks glide. An afternoon cribbage game, getting to know each other. Then a dive before dinner, either at dusk (we now know the meaning of "crepuscular"), or after, watching eyes watch you, or playing pied piper with your torch to a thousand wiggling bristle worms. A glass of wine or three, pureed pumpkin soup, pan-seared wahoo, chocolate crepe with raspberries and ice cream.


Scorpionfish camouflage.

Ah, life can be rich. How lucky we were to be guided by the best: Rob the Explorer and Cat the Observer, divemaster Richard with his excellent eyes, Mo and Peni always ready with the skiffs, and a staff that aimed to please and succeeded. Verdant islands and turquoise lagoons, 10 days of calm seas. Guitars strumming, shooting stars falling, laughing till we cried at the Stan Waterman's Our Hero video. Don't forget the kava. And always, below us, a constantly moving-morphing aquarium. We reveled in the unexpected, from the elusive rufus ghost pipefish to the titan triggerfish that bit Bart in the head.

Popcorn shrimp on an adhesive anemone.



Fire dartfish family.

Soft corals, hard currents.

Tom and Bonnie, Scottie and Bart, Peg and Don, Rob, Bob, Tom and Jeanne and Hillary. Different ages, from 21 to don't-ask. Different dive backgrounds, from Hillary's four dives to those approaching a thousand. Who knows, maybe different expectations? But we leave as friends who have shared an unforgettable experience. Thank you, Rob and Cat. All expectations exceeded. High tides.

Barracuda.



Shrimp clean up a giant moray maw.



Long-nosed hawkfish.

FROM THE GUEST BOOK

Second NAI'A trip - continued excellence. See you another cyclone season!
Peg Terhar & Don Gregory, Ohio
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Thank you for creating a memorable and restorative vacation for us - it was wonderful to visit all of the neighborhoods below and once again to live in Fiji time. We look forward to our next visit.
Tom & Bonnie Schauwecker, California
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I'll think of you and this great trip as I go over my slides. I'll be looking forward to another future trip
Bart German, Texas
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Here's the deal: what an absolutely wonderful 10 days. Felt as if we'd been immersed in a giant vat of lollipops! It was nice to be pampered the whole time and to be with environmentally astute and aware staff. Thanks for being fierce stewards of this fragile environment. Cat made it special by knowing the names of all the creatures big and small. It was comforting to know that Mo was right on top of us as soon as we surfaced. The village visit was a special touch that showed us a life perspective so different from our own. What a positive experience for our daughter Hillary's first dive vacation. She got the best first! This has been an experience we will long remember - we'll be back.
Jeanne, Tom & Hillary Joseph, Wisconsin
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To all the wonderful folks on the NAI'A: my heartfelt thanks for a splendid trip. You're the best. And THAT'S the deal....
Scottie Franklin, New Jersey